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Publication numberUS7753865 B1
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 11/653,131
Publication dateJul 13, 2010
Filing dateJan 16, 2007
Priority dateJan 16, 2007
Fee statusLapsed
Publication number11653131, 653131, US 7753865 B1, US 7753865B1, US-B1-7753865, US7753865 B1, US7753865B1
InventorsJohn P. Hely
Original AssigneeWeber Orthopedic Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Highly stable ankle brace
US 7753865 B1
Abstract
In ankle brace apparatus, the combination comprising a foot and ankle holder having a lower foot portion, and having an upper ankle portion with opposite first and second sides, said upper ankle portion including: a guide loop having opposite sections, a first orthopedic strap anchored to one section for passing about a user's ankle or lower leg, and then passage through the loop to extend in a first tightening direction, a second orthopedic strap anchored to another said section to extend in a second and opposite tightening direction, relative to said ankle or lower leg, whereby the two straps extending in said first and second directions can be manually pulled in said directions to tighten the first strap about said ankle or lower leg, and the two tensioned straps then connected by push together connection to tightened extents of the first strap to hold tension transmission via said loop sections and straps; and support strap structure operatively connected to said holder to extend under said foot portion and then to extend generally upwardly and rearwardly for removable retention to at least one of said opposite sides at a retention zone, or zones.
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Claims(18)
1. In ankle brace apparatus, the combination comprising
a) a foot and ankle holder having a lower foot portion, and having an upper ankle portion with opposite first and second sides, said upper ankle portion including:
i) a guide loop having opposite sections,
ii) a first orthopedic strap anchored to one section for passing about a user's ankle or lower leg, and then passage through the loop to extend in a first tightening direction,
iii) a second orthopedic strap anchored to another said section to extend in a second and opposite tightening direction, relative to said ankle or lower leg,
iv) whereby the two straps extending in said first and second directions can be manually pulled in said directions to tighten the first strap about said ankle or lower leg,
v) and the two tensioned straps then connected by push together connection to tightened extents of the first strap to hold tension transmission via said loop sections and straps,
b) support strap structure operatively connected to said holder to extend under said foot portion and then to extend generally upwardly and rearwardly for removable retention to at least one of said opposite sides at a retention zone, or zones,
c) wherein in planar flattened and extended position of the brace the first strap extends leftwardly and angularly downwardly, said second strap extends rightwardly and angularly downwardly, and said support strap structure is elongated and extends downwardly between said first and second straps and forms acute angles therewith, said first and second straps having anchoring ends located at substantially the same zone of the holder structure.
2. The combination of claim 1 wherein said support strap structure includes two support straps wrapped in opposite directions under said holder foot portion, said support straps having first end portions which have hinge attachments to said holder upper ankle portion opposite first and second sides, respectively.
3. The combination of claim 2 wherein said hinge attachments are spaced apart to provide freely exposed strap free cushioning at the rear of said holder.
4. The combination of claim 3 wherein said rear of the holder is free of any overlying strap structure between the uppermost and lowermost extents thereof, whereby said cushioning is unrestricted by any strap structure, and said rear of the holder provides a strap free conforming cushion.
5. The combination of claim 2 wherein said holder foot portion has hook and pile connection to said two support straps.
6. The combination of claim 2 wherein said support straps have second end portions captivated by at least one of said orthopedic straps.
7. The combination of claim 2 wherein at least one of said support straps has a second upwardly extending end portion captivated by at least one of said orthopedic straps.
8. The combination of claim 1 wherein said holder foot portion has hook and pile connection to said support strap structure.
9. The combination of claim 8 wherein said support strap structure includes two support straps wrapped in opposite directions under said holder foot portion.
10. The combination of claim 1 wherein said push together connections are at four spaced locations on said straps.
11. The combination of claim 10 wherein two of said spaced locations are associated with said first direction, and a second two of said spaced locations are associated with said second direction.
12. The combination of claim 11 wherein hook and pile material is on said tightened extent of the first strap.
13. The combination of claim 11 wherein hook and/or pile material is located at said first two locations, and hook and/or pile material is also located at the second of said locations.
14. The combination of claim 1 where the loop has stretches that are tensioned during said tension transmission via the loop sections.
15. The combination of claim 1 wherein the first and second straps have terminals spaced from said loop to enable manual grasping and pulling of the two straps in said directions for tightening and loosening of the first and second straps about the user's ankle or lower leg.
16. The combination of claim 1 wherein the guide loop is sufficiently stiff to withstand opposite directional tensioning of the tightener straps, without substantial loop endwise deflection, while maintaining the first and second straps oriented in general alignment proximate the loop to prevent tensioning misalignment.
17. The combination of claim 16 wherein the loop defines a bounded area free of any retention structure other than the strap passing therethrough.
18. The combination of claim 1 wherein the first and second straps have positions characterized in that endwise tensioning of strap end portions is established and maintained while forcible face to face operative connection of strap extents is simultaneously established at two endwise spaced locations.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to ankle braces, and more particularly to improvements in such braces enabling ease and rapidity of application to the wearer's ankle, a well as enhanced ankle stability.

Injuries to ankles such as sprains frequently require the application of ankle braces, which must be repeatedly applied and removed at frequent intervals. Accordingly, ease and rapidity of application and removal are essential. There is need for improvements in ankle braces enabling such ease and rapidity of brace application and removal, as well as providing for enhanced ankle stability and support when applied.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is a major object of the invention to provide an improved ankle brace meeting the above needs. Basically, the ankle brace apparatus embodying the invention preferably comprises:

a) a foot and ankle holder having a lower foot portion, and having an upper ankle portion with opposite first and second sides, said upper ankle portion including:

    • i) a guide loop having opposite sections,
    • ii) a first orthopedic strap anchored to one section for passing about a user's ankle or lower leg, and then passage through the loop to extend in a first tightening direction,
    • iii) a second orthopedic strap anchored to another said section to extend in a second and opposite tightening direction, relative to said ankle or lower leg,
    • iv) whereby the two straps extending in said first and second directions can be manually pulled in said directions to tighten the first strap about said ankle or lower leg,
    • v) and the two tensioned straps then connected by push together connection to tightened extents of the first strap to hold tension transmission via said loop sections and straps,

b) support strap structure operatively connected to said holder to extend under said foot portion and then to extend generally upwardly and rearwardly for removable retention to at least one of said opposite sides at a retention zone, or zones.

A further object is to provide such support strap structure which includes two support straps wrapped in opposite directions under said holder foot portion, said support straps having first end portions which have hinge attachments to said holder upper ankle portion opposite first and second sides, respectively. Such hinge attachments are preferably spaced apart to provide freely exposed strap free cushioning at the rear of said holder. Also, the holder foot portion has hook and pile connection to said two support straps.

Another object is to configure the rear of the holder to be free of any overlying strap structure between the uppermost and lowermost extents thereof, whereby said cushioning is unrestricted by any strap structure, and said rear of the holder provides a strap free conforming cushion. As will be seen, the holder foot portion has hook and pile connection to said support strap structure.

Yet another object is to provide the support strap structure to include two support straps wrapped in opposite directions under said holder foot portion.

An added object is to provide the push together connections at four spaced locations on said straps. Two of such spaced locations are typically associated with the first direction, and a second two of said spaced locations are associated with said second direction.

A further object is to provide the loop with stretches that are tensioned during said tension transmission via the loop sections. Also, the loop is sufficiently stiff to withstand opposite directional tensioning of the tightener straps, without substantial loop endwise deflection, while maintaining the first and second straps oriented in general alignment proximate the loop to prevent tensioning misalignment. As will be seen, the loop defines a bounded area such as a slit free of any retention structure other than the strap passing therethrough.

Additionally, the first and second straps have positions characterized in that endwise tensioning of strap end portions is established and maintained while forcible face to face operative connection of strap extents is simultaneously established at two endwise spaced locations.

Yet another object is to provide improved brace apparatus comprising:

a) a flexible holder structure fittingly attachable to the user's foot and ankle,

b) said holder structure include anchoring strap structure having means to endwise tension the anchoring strap structure about the user's limb proximate the ankles,

c) and support straps having certain ends attached to the anchored holder structure to be wrapped directionally oppositely about the ankle and foot of the user and then upwardly to terminate opposite sides of the holder structure,

d) thereby to provide at least three layers of overlapping strap material at each side of the holder structure with hook and pile material providing positive anchoring interconnection of said layers.

These and other objects and advantages of the invention, as well as the details of an illustrative embodiment, will be more fully understood from the following specification and drawings, in which:

DRAWING DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 is a frontal and left side elevation in perspective, showing apparatus embodying one preferred form of the invention, as applied to a wearer's left foot and ankle, with all straps in position;

FIG. 2 is a right side and rear elevation, in perspective, of the FIG. 1 apparatus;

FIG. 3 is a rear elevation of the FIG. 1 apparatus showing its application to the heel;

FIG. 4 is a rear view like FIG. 3 but showing straps in unattached relation;

FIG. 5 is a frontal view, showing straps in uncompletely attached relation;

FIG. 6 is a section taken on likes 6-6 of FIG. 5, showing an initial step in strap attachment;

FIG. 7 is a view like FIG. 1, showing a subsequent step in strap attachment;

FIG. 8 is a plan view showing the holder with its straps, extending in a substantially flat or extended plane;

FIG. 9 is an enlarged view taken on lines 9-9 of FIG. 8,

FIG. 10 is a view like FIG. 1 showing a modification; and

FIG. 11 is a view like FIG. 2 showing an additional modification.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the preferred embodiment shown, a holder in the form of a boot 10 for the foot and ankle of a wearer is shown to have a lower foot portion 10 a and an upper ankle portion 10 b. Opposite panel sides of the portion 10 b are indicated at 11 and 12. Side 11 is at the outer side of the ankle, and side 12 is at the inner side of the ankle. The rear side of the holder is seen at 13, and a lower cut-out 13 a is formed in 13 to receive the heel of the wearer. The holder may consist of non-stretchable Nylon fabric, which is durable and flexible.

Extending the description to FIGS. 5, 6, and 8, the holder upper ankle portion typically includes:

    • i) a guide loop 100 having opposite sections 101 and 102,
    • ii) a first flexible orthopedic strap 103 anchored to one section, such as section 101, for passing about a user's ankle 104 or lower leg, and then passage at 103 a through the loop at slit 105 to extend in a first tightening direction 106,
    • iii) a second flexible orthopedic strap 107 anchored to another said section, such as section 102, to extend in a second and opposite tightening direction, 108, relative to said ankle or lower leg,
    • iv) whereby the two straps 103 and 107 extending in said first and second directions can be manually pulled in said directions to tighten the first strap 103 about said ankle or lower leg,
    • v) and the two tensioned straps can then be connected by push together connection (for example by hook and pile) to tightened or tensioned extents of the first and second straps to hold tension transmission via said loop, sections and straps. The holder is thereby positively connected to the ankle or leg.

Flexible support strap structure is provided, and is operatively connected to the holder 10 to extend under foot portion 10 a and then to extend generally upwardly for retention to opposite holder sides 11 and 12, at retention zones. See for example FIGS. 3 and 4 showing strap 20 having one end portion 20 a hinge connected at 20 g as by stitching to the holder side 11, above ankle level, the strap 20 then extending forwardly and downwardly at 20 b across the upper straps 103 and 107, then downwardly under the lower foot portion 10 a of the holder at 20 c, then back upwardly at 20 d at the side of the ankle for operative connection as by hook and pile connection of strap opposite end portion 20 e to the holder side 11, typically in overlying connected (hook and pile) relation to end portion 20 a at 20 f. The operative connection may advantageously consist of inner side hook and pile material 25 connected to outer pile or hook material 24 on 20 a. Similarly, a second support strap 40 is provided to have one end portion 40 a hinge connected at 40 g to the holder side 12, above ankle level, the strap then extending forwardly and downwardly at 40 b across the upper straps 103 and 107, under strap extent 20 b and then downwardly and under the lower foot portion of the holder at 40 c, crossing 20 c, and then back upwardly at 40 d at the opposite side of the ankle, for operative connection of strap 40 opposite end portion 40 e to the holder, typically in overlying relation to end portion 40 a. Such operative connection may advantageously consist of inner side hook or pile material at 46 connected to outer pile or hook material 49 on 40 a. Lowermost holder structure under the foot also carries hook or pile material to connect to pile or hook material on straps at 20 c or 40 c.

FIG. 9 shows the guide loop 100 having metallic stiffeners 101 a and 102 a within sections 101 and 102, respectively. FIG. 2 also shows foot portion 10 a wrapping upwardly at a side of the holder portion 10 b to attach thereto at 10 aa.

In summary, multiple support straps as at 20 and 40 are provided to overlie one another, such as a pair or more of overlying strap extents 40 b and 40 e, and/or a pair or more of overlying strap extents 20 b and 20 e, to increase the strength and/or stiffness of the ankle brace composite, at the side or sides of the ankle, such overlying strap extents reinforcing anchored to the first and second straps 103 and 107 which are themselves positively tension connected to the leg or arm, as described above. Strap 103 also provides a cushion between uppermost and lowermost extents of the rear of the holder, to comfortably adjust to the wearer's foot at the thereby unconstrained Achilles tendon area, and at the same time, the ankle brace performs its positive ankle bracing functions. Note that no straps overlie the Achilles tendon area at the rear of the holder.

In the FIGS. 10 and 11 modifications, the support strap 20 dd, corresponding to strap 20 d in FIG. 1, extends upwardly at 20 ff beneath strap 103, such as an end portion thereof and is removably connected to 103 by hook and pile connection material, whereby the straps 103 and 107 assist in holding 20 ff and 20 dd in generally extended and firmly attached position. The illustrated FIG. 10 elements are otherwise like those in FIG. 1.

Also in the FIGS. 10 and 11 modification, the support strap 40 dd, corresponding to strap 40 d in FIG. 2, extends upwardly at 40 ff beneath strap 107, such as beneath an end flap portion thereof and is removably connected to 107 by hook and pile connection material, whereby the straps 103 and 107, which are endwise interconnected, assist in holding 40 dd and 40 ff in upwardly extended and firmly attached position. Note that strap extent 40 ff overlaps strap extent 40 b, and that strap 107 overlaps both 40 ff and 40 b, to provide a three interconnected layer assembly. The illustrated FIG. 11 elements are otherwise like those in FIG. 2.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5067486Mar 28, 1990Nov 26, 1991Medical Specialties, Inc.Ankle stabilizing appliance
US5899872 *Feb 24, 1997May 4, 1999Bodyworks Healthcare LimitedFoot and ankle support
US6117098Mar 22, 1999Sep 12, 2000Weber Orthopedic, Inc.Ankle brace
US6929617 *Jun 18, 2002Aug 16, 2005Beiersdorf Inc.Nonbulky ankle brace for use with footwear
US20040260226 *Nov 20, 2003Dec 23, 2004Gilmour Robert FarrerAnkle strap
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8454545Mar 6, 2012Jun 4, 2013Weber Orthopedic Inc.Rear entry ankle brace with medial and lateral access
US8821427Jun 3, 2013Sep 2, 2014Weber Orthopedic Inc.Rear entry ankle brace with medial and lateral access
US20110034846 *Aug 6, 2010Feb 10, 2011Draper Shane DProtective braces for joints and associated methods
US20110146032 *Dec 7, 2010Jun 23, 2011Ossur HfStrapping system
US20110308108 *May 19, 2011Dec 22, 2011Under Armour, Inc.Foot support article
EP2491895A1 *Feb 28, 2011Aug 29, 2012BSN medical GmbHAnkle joint orthosis
Classifications
U.S. Classification602/23, 128/882, 602/27
International ClassificationA61F5/00
Cooperative ClassificationA61F5/0111, A61F13/065
European ClassificationA61F13/06D2, A61F5/01D1D
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Sep 2, 2014FPExpired due to failure to pay maintenance fee
Effective date: 20140713
Jul 13, 2014LAPSLapse for failure to pay maintenance fees
Feb 21, 2014REMIMaintenance fee reminder mailed
Jan 16, 2007ASAssignment
Effective date: 20070104
Owner name: WEBER ORTHOPEDIC INC.,CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:HELY, JOHN P.;REEL/FRAME:18800/117
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:HELY, JOHN P.;REEL/FRAME:018800/0117
Owner name: WEBER ORTHOPEDIC INC., CALIFORNIA